Punctuation in Diinlang is based on that of English, with a number of simplifications.
When spoken, punctuation of a sentence takes the form of pauses of variable length. When a punctuation symbol would be replaced by a spoken word, a word is used in preference to a symbol in the written form. This is the principle of “Punctuate like you pause”. Thus, one would write “…9 to 5…” or “…teacher or parent…” rather than “…9-5…” or “…teacher/parent…”.
Full-Stop. When a heading finishes in a line-break it is not necessary to add a full-stop. This improves the aesthetics of the text. Items in a bulleted list do not need a full-stop unless they are a sentence. Items should not end in a comma nor semi-colon. Some style guides require the last item on a bulleted list to end in a full-stop. This is redundant unless the item is a sentence. In Diinlang ending with a full-stop may be seen as redundant when there is a line-break. Capitalization rules for Diinlang have yet to be finalized. For now, assume each item in a bulleted list begins with a capital letter.
Commas, The serial comma or “Oxford comma” is permissible in Diinlang. Its use is recommended when its use clarifies the meaning of a list.
Colon: A colon is used in much the same way as in English. It serves to introduce new information such as a quotation, an explanation, an example, or a series. Whether the information following begins with a capital letter will depend on whether it is a new sentence, a bulleted list, or not. It may be used for emphasis or to join independent clauses. A colon should not be followed by a hyphen or dash. When writing dialogue, an introductory clause does not need a colon, comma or full-stop if it is immediately followed by a quotation mark on the same line. eg She said “It is time…” An identifier that follows a quotation mark does not need to be capitalized. It is treated as the end of a sentence, however.
Question Mark? A sentence is made a question by adding a question mark to the end. In Diinlang this represents the word “ke” and is pronounced if the sentence is read-out-loud. Ke is placed at the start of a sentence to form the Diinlang of “Wh-” questions. In these sentences a “?” may be written at the start of the sentence rather than “ke”.
Exclamation Point! Used as in English. It should be used sparingly unless within dialogue.
Slash/ The slash symbol is used for a number of applications. The slash often represents an alternative. When used for sentence construction, in many instances it can be replaced by words such as “or”. If a slash is used, there should be no space between the slash and the following character, unless this would affect clarity. A slash with a space after is used to quote the lines of a poem when line breaks are not used. eg. She wrote “Challenge in the spring/ Autumn rain bathing in light/ Children laugh lightly/ ”
Semicolon; A semicolon joins independent clauses. The STE guide notes that the semi-colon is difficult to use correctly and suggests it is never used. It is preferable to use a comma, colon, or construct two sentences instead. The main use for the semicolon in Diinlang is to separate the items of a complex list. A complex list is one where one or more items contains a comma.
Hyphens and Dashes– Diinlang uses the keys found on a generic keyboard for punctuation. The hyphen (or more properly, “hyphen-minus symbol”) is used instead of an en-dash. The hyphen joins two or more words or numbers together so they are treated as a single unit. It may form compound modifiers or compound a modifier with a noun. When it joins two numbers, it indicates the numbers represent a unitary concept such as a period of time. Thus, “1914-1918 War”. Where two numbers are joined together to represent a range, then a word should be used rather than a hyphen. See 9-5 example earier. In some English uses the hyphen may be replaced by a colon. eg “My team won 3:1!” rather than “..won 3-1”
A double-hyphen is used instead of an em-dash. It is used in place of a comma, parenthesis, or colon. Using these latter symbols is preferable in Diinlang –the use of a double-hyphen or em-dash should be sparing. A double-hyphen or em-dash might be used when a clause already contained a comma, so could not be isolated with a comma. In this application the double-hyphen is treated like brackets. They are preceeded and followed by a space, but there is no space between them and the phrase or clause within.
A double-hyphen may be used instead of a bullet when making a bulleted list.
A double-hyphen is used instead of a double-em-dash when representing missing letters in a word–“J– told G– that it was ‘All S–!’”